Sure are a lot of things done online these days
Let’s see. What can I do online without filling out complicated registration forms in person? My federal income tax. My Minnesota income tax. My airline tickets. My Amazon purchases. My rental car contract. View my medical records. Deposit a check into my bank account. Shift money in my Vanguard account. Buy Treasury bills. Pay my Visa bill.
But register to vote — heavens, no! (“Beware of online voter registration,” Oct. 18.) Although I can, for about $500, buy the entire database of Minnesota voters, including address and voting history, with no privacy complaints.
We want people to vote, but getting citizens to register is hard work. I have done voter registration for years, so I know that the simpler and faster and safer and cheaper it is made, the better the system. Secretary of State Mark Ritchie wants Minnesotans to vote. Do his critics?
PAT DAVIES, Minneapolis
Comparatively, JPM will hardly feel a thing
Lee Schafer’s Oct. 23 column (“Big penalties shouldn’t be a surprise after a boom”) cites a couple of “responsible people” who think the reported $13 billion in penalties that JPMorgan Chase is likely to pay over its conduct during our late financial “boom” is too much.
Schafer might have consulted Andrew Haldane, director of Financial Stability for the Bank of England, who estimated in 2010 that the orgies of fraud committed by JPMorgan and its too-big-to-fail cronies cost the world economy $60 trillion to $200 trillion in lost output. The “boom” might be characterized more accurately as a nuclear blast ignited by financial terrorists.
At the lower end, the latest bite on JPM represents two-hundredths of 1 percent of the damages. I’d classify that as a mosquito bite, but it’s less than that; some mosquito bites can actually kill you.
Schafer dutifully checked in with a couple of local bankers who can’t be bothered to see any lessons that might be learned from the whole mess. Here’s one: Crime pays, and the bigger and richer you are, the more handsomely it pays.
WILLIAM BEYER, St. Louis Park
My Trip Planner experience is good
I read the disparaging letter on Oct. 24 about Metro Transit’s Trip Planner website and felt compelled to write. I have ridden area buses since I was a kid in the 1960s, and Metro Transit has been my main mode of transportation for the last 16 years. I have seen a tremendous improvement in punctuality over the years.
I have used the Trip Planner since the website launched, with only an occasional minor glitch. In the thousands of trips to and from work in the last 16 years, I have been late exactly three times because of issues with Metro Transit. This includes days when the snow was so bad that most of my driving coworkers were late. Twice I was late because a car was stalled on the light-rail tracks, and the third time due to another light-rail issue. I have never had a bus that left more than a couple of minutes ahead of schedule, and even that is a rare occurrence. More often, but still rare, are the times the bus is late — but never “extremely late,” as the letter writer complains. I have been using the mobile site for two years and have never had a problem getting on it when I had cellphone service. I say kudos to Metro Transit for doing such a great job!
MARK ERICKSON, Minneapolis
It’s hard to take the outrage seriously
Let’s not get too overwrought by the feigned outrage of European leaders over U.S. spying. Every single one of those countries has espionage agencies like the CIA and NSA. Every single one of them spies on the United States, too. Every one of those countries spies on every other country, friend and foe alike. It’s de rigueur. So, ignore their pompous, self-righteous hypocrisy. Oh, and you can ignore the hypocritical denials by the United States that it’s happening.
KEVIN DRISCOLL, St. Paul
Suspension, now lifted, sent a certain message
George Carlin had seven words you can’t say on television (“Judge says wrestler can rejoin Shakopee team,” Oct. 24). Maybe Shakopee High School should have seven words you can’t text or speak.
Gordon Kelley, Dundas, Minn.
SMOKING, PART TWO
Don’t, for a moment, imply it was ever ‘cool’
I was disappointed by the recent causerie by Seth Stevenson on the misuse of the word “cool” (It’s so not cool when a good word is overused,” Oct. 17). The most unexpected thing was his attempt to associate cigarette smoking with being cool. It is unclear whether he overtly intended to advance the cause of the tobacco industry or was unconsciously joining a dwindling number of smoking proponents. Either way, while failing to coherently define being cool, he clearly reemphasized the definition of being a pawn.
As a thoracic surgeon, I have the unfortunate privilege of operating on victims of the tobacco scourge. Lung cancer continues as the leading cause of cancer death in the United States. Smoking remains as the most important risk factor for lung cancer, resulting in about 85 percent of cases. As you can imagine, these statistics do not engender in me a sense of indifferent coolness.
I tell all of my patients, and anyone who will listen, that the best medical decision one can make is to not start smoking and, for those who have started smoking, to quit. The tobacco industry’s only way to continue is for it to recruit new smokers from the ranks of the young and impressionable. This is why Stevenson’s article was so unhelpful.
Dr. STEPHEN CASSIVI, Rochester